Gift of the Whale: The Inupiat Bowhead Hunt, A Sacred Tradition

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9781570613821: Gift of the Whale: The Inupiat Bowhead Hunt, A Sacred Tradition
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Bill Hess began his association with the Inupiat Eskimos in 1982. Eventually, he got permission to accompany them on their historic whale hunt. This book is his record, in sensitive text and stark images, of what he experienced. Hess explores Inupiat history and traditions juxtaposed against contemporary life, never shying away from the controversial aspects of this ancient trek. Gift of the Whale is a rare contribution to Native history.

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About the Author:

Bill Hess publishes two Native publications, Iuniq and Village Voices. He lives in Wasilla, AK.

From Kirkus Reviews:

Through intensely atmospheric pictures and a rawboned text, photographer and journalist Hess documents here his 20-year association with the annual Iupiat whale hunt in Barrow, Akaska. The text has the quality of fleshed-out diary entries, as Hess recounts the specifics of the hunt and select incidents from this frigid North Slope landscape. There is the search for a hunter gone missing on a night too cold to be out; the multinational rescue of three gray whales doomed by thickening ice; and a rogue storm that rudely exposes the burial place of a shaman. Hess does a yeoman's job explaining the tradition of the hunt: how the whale morphs between dietary mainstay and ages-old relict in the Iupiat cosmology; the hunter's conduct; and how the sorry history of Yankee whaling in the region has affected the Iupiat by taking numberless whales to satisfy the demand for corsets and leaving behind disease and quotas on the native harvest. But its the photographs that really sing. The black-and-white images project a deep antiquity situated squarely in the present, skillfully conveying both the respect accorded these creatures and the wholesale joy and sense of community the whales bring to the far, far north. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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